Jumps-only action to end NH season from 2014
Last Updated: 01/10/13 2:33pm
Quentin Collonges wins the 2013 bet365 Gold Cup
Sandown's bet365 Gold Cup Saturday will be an all-jumps card from next year, and will be followed by a four-day break before the start of the new campaign in order to more clearly 'define the end of the Jumps season'.
With the support of the British Horseracing Authority and Great British Racing, Sandown and Jockey Club Racecourses have used the inertia from the upgrade of the two-mile bet365 Celebration Chase to make the changes, altering Friday's programme to be an all-Flat card.
No other National Hunt racing will now take place on the Saturday and prize money will be significantly boosted for both days of the fixture.
Rupert Trevelyan, London Regional Director for Jockey Club Racecourses, said: "Going all-Jumps for the bet365 Gold Cup Saturday as part of a clearly-defined climax to Britain's National Hunt season has been under consideration for some time.
"The successful scheduling of a Jumps break after we officially bring down the curtain and the Grade One upgrade of the bet365 Celebration Chase means now is the right time to take this step."
Sandown Park will be the only racecourse to stage Jumps racing on the day as part of The Jockey Club's contribution to creating a better-defined climax, with the fixture previously run at Market Rasen moving off to be replaced by Flat racing at Haydock Park.
The Friday of the bet365-sponsored meeting, on 25 April in 2014, will combine the best of the Flat races previously staged across both days of the fixture to enhance Friday's all-Flat card in terms of both quality and prize money.
This will include the Group Two bet365 Mile, Group Three bet365 Classic Trial and bet365 Gordon Richards Stakes. The final race detail for both days, along with the total prize money on offer in 2014 - up significantly from 2013 - will be confirmed in due course.
In due course Sandown Park will announce a new title for the two-day event, previously named the bet365 Ultimate Celebration.
Paul Struthers, Chief Executive of the Professional Jockeys' Association (PJA), said: "This is great news for the sport. Well done to Sandown Park for going to an all-Jumps card as a fitting climax to the National Hunt season and to the courses who have moved to create this end of season break.
"At this time of year Jockeys wanted a short break like this rather than a longer one, in addition to the break in August and a shorter one in September I am expecting in the 2014 fixture list.
"Sandown now staging the only National Hunt fixture on that last day of the season also means Conditional Jockeys can be present and we can crown the Champion Conditional as part of the awards
that day, which is also brilliant news."
Rod Street, Chief Executive of Great British Racing, the promotional arm of British racing, said: "Sandown's new finale to the Jumps season is a major step forward for the sport.
"From the outset, we've been strong advocates of clearly defined seasons and championships as they're vital for the proper promotion of racing to the wider public. It's a credit to all concerned that we've managed to make this happen."